Rachel Daniels has been a research and development food scientist II at Tyson Foods in Downers Grove, Illinois, since June 2019. Since the start of her career, she has worked on Hillshire Farm-branded smoked sausage, including links, ropes, and cocktails. In 2021, she also started working on ready-to-cook tortillas under the brand Tortilla Land. Rachel’s role includes optimizing current products in the retail market, as well as launching new products. Throughout her time at Tyson Foods, she has had the opportunity to work with many cross functional partners, including food safety, quality assurance, marketing, supply chain, procurement, operations, sensory, and packaging to help drive business development in an everchanging market.
Before joining Tyson Foods, Rachel gained her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), where she also served as a member of the Corps of Cadets during undergrad. During her sophomore year, she joined the Virginia Tech Meat Center as a student worker, where she gained skills in harvesting, fabrication, and further processing of red meat animals including beef, pork, lamb, and the occasional goat. Within a year, she worked her way up to the role of Student Lead where she was responsible for training new student workers, as well as teaching labs at the Meat Center. During her first year there, the Meat Center opened its walk-in retail store, where Rachel helped to market products and educate consumers on cuts of meat and preparation methods.
After her undergraduate graduation in 2017, she decided to stay at Virginia Tech to pursue her Master of Science in animal science with an emphasis in meat science, while also being promoted to assistant manager at the Meat Center. During that time, she had the opportunity to work on various research projects contributing to meat and muscle biology research, including her own project focusing on harvest practices and their effect on fresh pork quality.
Rachel is passionate about educating consumers about their food supply, as well as encouraging students to pursue careers in the meat and food industry. In her spare time, she enjoys travelling to new places, being outside, and eating at all of the delicious restaurants that Chicago has to offer.